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We couldn’t wrap our heads around the fact that people sign up to run a 100 miles. In fact, we double checked that people willingly decided to run 100 miles at over 10,000 feet of altitude at the Leadville 100 Trail Run.
The previous weekend was the Leadville 100 mountain bike race and Floyd’s of Leadville was there in full force with our tent, supporting our Creative Director Dave Zabriskie. This time we didn’t have anyone to support and instead wanted to watch the spectacle that is running 100 miles.
To put that distance into perspective the winning time is 16 hours, while most of runners will cross the Leadville finish line in over 20 hours! This event was as much mental as it is physical. By that we mean you need to be crazy.
We set-up our Floyd’s of Leadville tent at the 40 mile marker at Twin Lakes, cracked open a beverage, and quickly made friends. Having a tent that provides a lot of shade is a great way to meet people. Also having beverages. Cold beverages is a great way to mix and mingle.
Soon we started to see runners emerging from the treeline, jog through town, and into the forest towards Hope Pass Summit. The leaders barely acknowledged the cheers. They were either so deep into the zone of putting one foot in front of the other or not wanting to waste the energy to even look in the direction of the people lining the small dirt road.
While runners trudged along, we sat under our 10 by 20 foot tent and made friends due to the aforementioned shade and beverages. A group of podiatrists posted up under our tent and were rooting for a fellow foot doctor named Mike. We never saw Mike run past us, but the podiatrists swore he existed and was in fact still running. As the time ticked by we wondered if Mike was: 1. Alive or 2. A figment of the imagination of these people claiming to be doctors. Either way it was entertaining to hang with these folks.
Finally, we had to say goodbye to our new friends and told them we hoped “Mike” would show up. The following day we headed to the finish line to watch runners continue to complete the event. If you ever want to witness first hand the struggle and determination of people watch the end of an ultra-endurance running event like the Leadville 100 Trail Run. We saw people collapsed just past the finish, others sitting on the curb with that thousand mile stare as support staff gingerly removed the runner’s shoes and rub their legs.
As we wandered around the finish area we found our group of podiatrists who again claimed that “Mike” was about a mile away! After we picked our jaws off the ground, we got the low-down on what had happened. Just 20 minutes after we left, Mike ran by, determined to finish the 100 miles – his first ever run of this distance.
The Leadville 100 Trail Run challenges both the runners and their support staff. No one gets more than a couple of hours of sleep and the runner gets none. These types of ultra-endurance events are metaphors for pushing through our personal boundaries of what we think is possible. As Leadville 100 Race Series founder Ken Chllouber says, “You’re better than you think you are, you can do more than you think you can.” Also, you get a really cool, huge belt buckle and that’s nice as well.Sure enough, in the distance there seemed to be a guy that matched “Mike’s” description: tall with a beard. Sure, that could have fit about 70% of the male runners, but our group of doctors let out a cheer when they saw him, so we figured it was him. To confirm it was Mike, Floyd ran up to Mike and asked him for his name. Yes, it was Mike! “I heard you were looking for me,” he said. Yes Mike, we were.